Oprah Winfrey Gives Cars to Audience

Oprah Winfrey Gives Cars to Audience

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey celebrated the premiere of her 19th season Monday by surprising each of her 276 audience members with a new car. “We’re calling this our wildest dream season, because this year on the Oprah show, no dream is too wild, no surprise too impossible to pull off,” Winfrey said. Making sure the audience was kept in suspense, Winfrey opened the show by calling 11 audience members onto the stage. She gave each of them a car – a Pontiac G6. She then had gift boxes distributed to the rest of the audience and said one of the boxes contained keys to a twelfth car. But when the audience members opened the boxes, each had a set of keys. “Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car!” Winfrey yelled as she jumped up and down on the stage.


Winfrey said the audience members were chosen because their friends or family had written to the show about their need for a new car. One woman’s young son said she drove a car that “looks like she got into a gunfight”; another couple had almost 400,000 miles on their two vehicles.

A nice gesture. Now, granted, a $21,000 car is hardly out of the price range of someone with, say, a job. Or, for those of more modest means, a perfectly drivable used car would seem to be within the reach of anyone who could afford to take the day off and travel to the Oprah Winfrey show.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Boyd says:

    Mrowr! Hiss!

    Awfully catty of you there, James! 🙂

  2. A few years ago, ABC and Disney tried to build up a replacement for Oprah should she ever retire or get too expensive. They tried to duplicate the Oprah formula with starting local, but the decided on using a non-union shop to save money.

    No cars given away. But I swear to God, one of the shows had every audience member getting small bottles of NyQuil. Not sure what it was for, but they had a bunch of them left over and made excellent drink mixers.

  3. Jay says:

    I still think of $21,000 for a car as absurdly expensive. I know it’s increasingly common for ordinary people to pay that kind of money for a car, but I had all I could do to pay $2500 for my last one.

    But then, I also think of $200,000 as a lot for a house, and the house equivalent of the $21,000 car these days seems to be more on the order of $300 – 400k.

    And I think of $40,000 as pretty decent pay that anyone ought to be able to live on. Too bad by my calculations I have to (but probably won’t) make $60,000 to live on and pay taxes, groceries, a modest car payment (Deb’s), a feels overpriced but really isn’t apartment rent, $600 a month health insurance plus the parts it doesn’t cover, and so forth.

    I regularly wonder how people do it.

  4. The cars were actually $28,000 as they were fully loaded.

    Pontiac footed the entire bill – including paying all the taxes the audience members would have had to pay on their prizes.

  5. Attila Girl says:

    Ah. I see you don’ t live in a part of the world where a house costs $500,000 – $1,000,000 and up, Jay. It’s a little different on the metro areas of the coasts.

    And, James–what if they already live near the studio where Oprah is filmed? What if they are out of work, or work unorthodox hours? Aren’t you being just a teensy bit narrow?

  6. Attila Girl says:

    Of course, I’m being literal-minded, and probably strangely cranky: I need sleep. Goodnight.

  7. Jay says:

    Oh, many of them do cost that much. But it’s still possible to get them in the 300-400k range. If you’re amazingly lucky, in the right place, sufficiently tiny or run down, you might even go under 300. The rise was so fast it could make your head spin.

    One of my friends bought a house about two years ago in Marblehead, MA for 345k. I was horrified with the amount, but hey, it’s Marblehead, even if it’s a lowbrow section. I was shocked when I visited and found a tiny house on a postage stamp lot. I’d have guessed it to be maybe 200k, 250k in the hyperactive market. It boggles me.

    It’s not really that much different than remembering when candy bars increased to 25 cents and how expensive that seemed at the time, and being amazed that they are, say, 79 cents now. But at least I make at least three times more so it’s not all out of proportion. My brother’s house and land worth maybe 50k when he bought it is worth 250k now. His income has almost doubled in that time. He’s not that unusual. Doubled, not quintupled. This is my big complaint. Not that there’s anyone to complain to, of course. I just blog about whether we are in a housing bubble or not and get virtual nods of agreement or puzzled looks of disagreement.

  8. Attila Girl says:

    I haven’t seen anything under 500K in even the dodgiest areas of L.A. for some time. If I had to get a place for less I’d get a condo. They weren’t great investments in SoCal twenty years ago, but now that freestanding houses are out of range for many, they should be really good investments now.

  9. Bridgette Bell says:

    Hi Oprah,

    I live in the Bahamas and I always enjoy watching your shows. I think you are a lovely person inside and out.

    I have always wanted to write to you but I was not sure if I would get to you. I know you have millions and millions of things to do and people to deal with.

    I love your giving spirit. I need a laptop and I can’t afford to get one. Everytime I try something comes up and I have to deal with another situation.

    They say nothing beats a failure but a try. So if you ever get this email I would be very happy and surprised. My mom is a single mom who had to stop working because she can’t really do now. I have never know my father so anything that I can do for myself and my mother, brother or sister, I TRY. I wish I could take care of them all but………u know.

    Have a great day/nigh Oprah. I hope I do get a chance to hear from you.